Benjamin Hill, Ph.D.
It is an honor to be nominated for Member-at-Large. NAN is my home organization in neuropsychology. I attended my first NAN conference 15 years ago as a doctoral student and have been continuously involved with the organization since that time. I started as a student volunteer at conferences before serving on the Poster Committee as a reviewer and poster judge. I served on the Clinical Research Grants Committee and am currently on the Program Committee for the upcoming conference. I was awarded the NAN Early Career Service Award (2016) and NAN Early Career Award (2017). I have quite literally grown up as a professional in NAN. I benefited tremendously from the friendships made in the organization and opportunities for career development NAN provides. I believe the breadth of experiences I have in NAN make me well-qualified to represent the membership as a board member.
After finishing my undergraduate degree at Coastal Carolina University, I earned a masters degree at Wake Forest University. I then completed my doctoral training at Louisiana State University, internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and two year postdoctoral fellowship at Brown Medical School. I am currently a tenured associate professor at the University of South Alabama. I train doctoral students in clinical neuropsychology, teach undergraduate and graduate courses, and run an active research lab. I have published 37 peer reviewed articles and 12 book chapters. I have 18 paper presentations and workshops at national and regional conferences, including 3 presentations and an invited webinar through NAN. I have a dual appointment in the Department of Neurosurgery at our medical school and am a faculty fellow at the Center for Generational Studies, a research center that focuses on aging issues. I also maintain a busy private practice as well as provide services at the Gulf Coast VA.
I am well aware of the problems the field is currently facing. Billing and compensation issues are significant threats to clinical neuropsychology in its current form. Practice is rapidly changing. We need to adapt with fee for service concepts outside of traditional insurance and integrating aspects of positive neuropsychology into our practice models. I am a firm believer that a field is either growing or dying. I am very committed to growing the field of neuropsychology. I hope you will allow me the chance to do that by representing you as Member-at-Large.
More info: http://www.southalabama.edu/colleges/artsandsci/psychology/faculty/hill.html
Dr. Hill is a member of the following organizations:
- Alabama Psychological Association (Member)
- APA Division 40 Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Professional Affiliate)
- International Neuropsychological Society (Regular/Full Member)
- National Academy of Neuropsychology (Professional Member)
- Society for Police and Criminal Psychology (Professional Member)
- Southeastern Psychological Association (Member)
Candidate Positions on the Issues:
How does your background qualify you for this office?
As stated previously, I have a long history of service to NAN and developing as a professional in the organization. I know both the history of NAN and the concerns of the membership. Additionally, I have a number of experiences outside of NAN that have prepared me to do well as Member-at-Large. First, I have a history of patient advocacy. I serve on the Mobile regional board of the Alabama Head Injury Foundation and supervise an affiliated support group for individuals with moderate to severe head injuries. Second, I have a broad history of service to the field. In addition to serving on committees for NAN, I was also the science officer for APA Division 40’s Early Career Neuropsychologists Committee and am currently on the APA Division 40 Awards Committee. I am a consulting editor for The Clinical Neuropsychologist and on the Editorial Board of Journal of Attention Disorders. Third, I have a history of professional advocacy. I am president of a local professional organization, Mobile Area Psychologists, that represents and connects applied psychologists in my area. I serve on the executive committee of the Alabama Psychological Association where we regularly liaison with our state legislature on bills that would affect practicing psychologists. I also teach a graduate class in Ethics and Professional Practice issues which requires me to keep abreast of the rapidly changing landscape in these areas. I believe these experiences have prepared me well to effectively represent the membership of NAN as Member-at-Large.
What do you see as the major challenges to neuropsychology in the next 5 years? How do you believe NAN, under your leadership, can be effective in meeting these challenges?
Being active in doctoral training, I am well aware of the need to provide resources for the development and mentoring of future neuropsychologists. In my opinion, NAN already does more to introduce students to the field than any other professional organization but there is room for growth in this area. As an example, the NAN Student and Post-Doctoral Resident Committee (SPRC) hosted several small panel discussions for student and early career neuropsychologists at the Boston conference that I was honored to assist as a panelist. This was a new outreach program and was very well received by the participants. It let the students and post-docs who attended feel that NAN was invested in them while also giving them the opportunity to solicit advice from more seasoned neuropsychologists. The future of neuropsychology depends on expanding training opportunities to both recruit talented individuals and produce well-trained clinicians who specialize in neuropsychology. Further, the future of NAN depends on drawing these people to our organization. Part of making neuropsychology an attractive profession is ensuring that individuals we ask to invest 7+ years in graduate and post-doctoral training are able to make a living that is commensurate with that time investment. Billing and compensation issues that are problematic now will likely only worsen in the future given the trajectory of our healthcare system. Addressing these issues should be at the forefront of our professional advocacy as it not only impacts current providers of neuropsychological services but also impacts the future of the field.
How would you promote professional practice?
As mentioned previously, I am president of Mobile Area Psychologists and serve on the executive committee of the Alabama Psychological Association. I work with a diverse group of psychologists in these roles dealing with state level professional issues giving me a unique insight into how our peers approach problems we face in clinical neuropsychology as well as a sharp awareness of the role lobbying plays in the health and growth of neuropsychology. It has become apparent to me that professional issues really happen at the state level. Scope of practice issues are determined in the end by state legislation affecting licensure laws. Any battle to protect the special role and skill set of neuropsychologists has to be fought at the state level to be effective. Additionally, insurers are national companies but operate differently state by state ensuring that billing issues are rarely resolved at the national level. While the NAN Professional Affairs and Information Committee (PAIC) does a fantastic job, I would explore having more resources and organizational focus on specialized PAIC groups that could target states as specific issues arise that directly impact the profession of neuropsychology. Being involved in state level professional advocacy, it is clear to me that the best of interests of neuropsychologists are not typically represented by state psychological organizations where only a handful of members may be practicing neuropsychologists. We need a coordinated plan of action to promote the professional interests of neuropsychologists at the state level to see effective change.
How do you plan to bridge science and practice?
In my opinion, NAN does a very good job bridging science and practice. One of the things I appreciate most about NAN is that it is a clinician-oriented organization. Its conference presentations and outreach programs reflect that focus on both good science and practical application. While I am a defender of science for science’s sake, a scientific talk is invariably more interesting and impactful when the attendee can conceptually apply the findings to their clinical work. The NAN Clinical Research Grants Committee does a great job with relatively limited funds to promote science that has direct applicability to neuropsychology. If elected as Member-at-Large, I would look for ways to expand this funding program. I have long thought that the strengths of NAN are the collegiality and diversity of clinical experiences of its members. I would like to explore leveraging these strengths by providing a network where practicing clinicians with similar research interests could identify potential collaborators or mentors to work on large scale research projects and pool data through a central online system maintained and operated by NAN. Such a system could possibly match doctoral students’ dissertation topics with practicing clinicians whose data fit the topic allowing for research collaboration with a clear practice focus. The recent launch of the NAN NeuroNetwork online community for NAN members provides a prototype for how this type of research collaborative could work. I am a divergent thinker and not afraid to try new ideas to bridge science and practice through NAN-initiated programs.